Executive Spotlight: Chief People Officer, Lynn Johnson
Based on your experience in a leadership role, if you only had six words of advice to give a business, what would they be?
Be Curious, Be Humble, Be Kind
Any leader should always be willing to understand the needs of others as they seek to solve business problems. Be curious, ask questions, ask more questions. Seek to understand the why. It typically takes five questions to get to the root of the need as solutions are processed. Just because you are in a leadership role, don’t assume you have all the answers. Ask those who are the “boots on the ground”. Those who are interfacing with the customers, those who are having challenges with a process. This is helpful when you are wanting resolution and also helps to demonstrate empathy – seek to understand before you are understood.
The definition of Humility from the Oxford Dictionary is “a modest or low view of one’s importance” and Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “freedom from pride or arrogance”. Author and Leadership speaker, Simon Sinek, wrote a book called Leaders Eat Last. The overall premise of the book is how great leaders put the needs of the team first. This creates a culture of safety, trust, accountability and great performance. Bottom line, be a servant leader, be willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work next to the rest of the team. If the trash is overflowing, be willing to help. Modeling expected behavior is a great motivator as you earn the trust of your team. This also helps you develop relationships which in turn, help when you have to have clarifying conversations. Your team knows you have a passion for excellence and that you will be relentless and fair as you create safety and hold yourself and others accountable. Be willing to acknowledge you have made a mistake and take accountability for your actions.
Kindness is not overrated…it is a great connector AND it is free! You will never know the impact of calling someone by their name, smiling at them, inquiring about their lives, family, friends and interests as you work with them. When you are kind, others feel seen, they feel heard, they feel recognized, they feel valued. They know that they matter! If a person feels valued, they will seek to partner with you to find a solution. They will trust your intentions when you have a clarifying conversation. It is about being genuine and recognizing them as an individual. Ask someone their name, ask how their day is going, ask how you can help them succeed at their task, ask about roadblocks. This continues to build a culture where everyone feels like they belong.
Of course, you still need to lead well, achieve deliverables, have clarifying conversations, hold yourself and others accountable and deliver results. Add curiosity, humility and kindness as you lead and see what happens as a result. May you never cease to stop striving for greatness.